Minimizing the Cost of Bariatric Surgery
For many, bariatric surgery can seem intimidating and unattainable due to cost. After all, any major surgery is expensive. Beyond the fees due to the medical team including surgeons, anesthesia and diagnostic testing, the hospital must be paid for their operating room and the overnight stay for recovery. But are there ways to save on weight loss surgery? We at Surgical Association of Mobile are dedicated to a fully transparent process that informs you about any out-of-pocket costs. Should your insurance plan exclude bariatric surgery, or your deductible or out of pocket expense be high, we can help you find alternative payment methods and arrange for cash pay pricing.
Why Bariatric Surgery is Worth it
Beyond the intangible potential benefits of bariatric surgery, including better general health, increased mobility and longer life, there are actual cost benefits to a successful bariatric procedure.
Several studies have shown that the cost of obesity is significant. Major expenses can include:
- Extra food costs
- Lost wages due to sick days and missed work
- Cost of medication
- Cost of non-bariatric procedures associated with excess weight and related health issues
- And much more
Conservatively, these costs add up to hundreds, but for many patients, the number is in the thousands every year.
Losing weight through bariatric surgery may, in fact, cover some of the cost (and eventually all of the cost) of surgery. Even more importantly, hundreds of thousands of patients every year regain the life they lost by addressing their obesity once and for all.
Money-Saving Tip #1: Timing Your Surgery
If you had health issues over the course of the year, you may have already used part, or all, of your deductible. As a result, a greater proportion of your bariatric procedure may be covered by insurance. Having surgery before the end of the calendar year can help ensure a lower out of pocket expense. Just be aware of a couple important considerations:
- Your plan may include some costs to you, regardless of deductible. This may include a copay, a fixed cost based on services rendered, and co-insurance, a proportion of the service that you are financially responsible for.
- You need to start the process earlier in the year. Insurance guidelines for bariatric surgery can be restrictive and may require up to 6 months of physician supervised weight loss. Therefore, you need to start the process, ideally, by spring, to be scheduled for surgery by the end of the year.
Cash Pay Options
For patients that do not have insurance to help them with the costs of surgery, the total expense of bariatric surgery may be somewhat of a mystery. Qualifying patients may have special cash pay pricing available to them. This is usually an all-inclusive price. Patients opting for cash pay have the added benefit of not having to meet some of the more stringent insurance company qualification requirements which can result in a faster pre-operative period for those patients motivated to move quickly.
Using Existing Diagnostic Imaging
If you have recently had diagnostic imaging, (usually within 30 days) we can often use this to speed the process along and avoid additional testing. Recent EKGs, cardiac stress tests, blood work and more can all help. Speak to our bariatric coordinator about any testing you’ve had and we will connect with your physician to get your records.
Dedicate Yourself to Your Post-Op Lifestyle
By far the best way to save money is to make the most of your bariatric procedure. Be sure to follow pre-op and post-op directions carefully, maintain a supportive structure around you and attend our support groups every month. By regaining your health through excellent post-op discipline, you’ll not only save money but also improve your life immeasurably. SAMPA recommends annual post-op visits with your surgeon for best results.
When It’s Not Best to Save Money
While there are many “deals” advertised, going out of country for bariatric surgery is not an advisable way to save money. It’s important to remember that US standards of care may not apply overseas and this may put your safety at risk. Just as important are the consequences of a complication. If you should experience a non-emergency adverse event after surgery, there are very few surgeons willing to correct it, and you may need to return overseas to the original surgeon to receive care. Further, taking advantage of support post-operatively can be just as vital to your long-term success as the procedure itself. Working with our dedicated care team allows you the peace of mind that you are being cared for throughout your journey.
The Bottom Line
Your safety and the effectiveness of the procedure is always of paramount importance and that’s why choosing the right surgeon and hospital is so important. And while cost should never be the first concern, we understand it is an important consideration. We encourage you to take advantage of the resources SAMPA has to offer both before and after bariatric surgery to save you money without compromising your safety. Schedule an in-person seminar, watch an online seminar or schedule a consultation with us. We look forward to meeting you and helping on your journey.